Battle of Pea Ridge
Report of Maj. Hugo Wangelin, Twelfth Missouri Infantry
CAMP ROSE HILL BATTLE-FIELD.
COLONEL: In accordance with your instructions, just received, I do hereby respectfully submit my report of the movements and actions of the Twelfth Missouri Volunteers on the days of battle, March 6, 7, and 8, 1862:
Arriving in Bentonville March 6, at about 10 a.m., I was ordered by you to remain in town until receiving further orders. The regiment had their arms stacked in front of a large unfinished frame church. The Second Regiment Missouri Volunteers marched from the south into our road and followed the main army, of which the Twelfth Missouri formed the rear. In the rear of the Second Missouri, and apparently from the same direction, appeared a large body of troops, who after a short time were discovered to be the enemy, how strong I am unable to say. The effective strength of the Twelfth at that day was only some 325 men, as two companies had been ordered off several days previous. The enemy outnumbering us and the other troops in town greatly spread out, his men on both sides of the road and parallel with it, in order to intercept all egress I was then ordered by General Sigel to march in the rear of a company of flying artillery on the same road as our whole army had taken. Shortly after, however, the whole regiment was ordered forward, with the exception of one company, who remained as protection behind the artillery almost the whole day. We had hardly left town when it was taken possession of by the enemy. General Sigel ordered the Twelfth (the only infantry present) to throw out skirmishers on both sides of the road, and to march the balance of the regiment on both sides of the artillery by the flank, fronting outward. This way we marched without any molestation for several miles, when we were suddenly attacked by a large body of cavalry, who were, after an engagement which to me seemed to last about a quarter of an hour, driven from the field, leaving many of their dead and wounded on the field.
This was the first time the men stood in fire, but all without exception behaved gallantly, pouring in their shot with deliberation and coolness. The enemy, so severely repulsed, withdrew, and we marched forward on our road without any further molestation.
The casualties of the day were 3 wounded. One ambulance, with the driver, was taken, with some sick soldiers of some other regiments. We marched on, and meeting you after a few hours' further march went into camp.
This morning (March 7) the regiment was ordered to follow in its march the Thirty-sixth Illinois Volunteers, and finally, after an hour's march, deployed on a large field, protecting Captain Hoffmann's battery. After a while two companies were ordered to deploy as skirmishers towards the woods, about a quarter of a mile in front of us, to protect some horses and drivers who were sent to recover a cannon which had been lost in a previous engagement of the day, which order was executed in gallant style. The gun was recovered and brought back. We were then several times ordered to change our position, when finally, while the regiment was marching into the timber by the right flank and was about half in the thicket, a large body of the enemy's infantry appeared, which was soon engaged by the regiment's left wing, and after considerable execution driven back.
This ended the second day's engagement as far as this regiment is concerned. After some marching without coming to any other general engagement we, in company with several other regiments, encamped in a large corn field, without fire, water, or food. The casualties of the day were 12 wounded, some of whom severely.
It is with great satisfaction that I can bear testimony to the coolness and bravery of all the officers and men under my command during the whole day. The comparatively small loss I attribute solely to their firmness, which enabled them to drive the enemy off with great loss, without being subject themselves to a very protracted fire.
On the third day (March 8), commenced with a march at 12.30 a.m. towards the Telegraph road, whereon we encamped for the rest of the night, and the regiment finally obtained some food--the first for twenty-four hours. The battle was commenced by the enemy by throwing round-shot over and sidewards of our camp, without hurting anybody. We were marched about 7 a.m. into a large corn field, occupying about the center of the left wing of the army, which was placed in a large semicircle. On our right was Welfley's and afterwards some other battery; on our left Hoffmann's battery. This position we occupied for some hours, the battle being for that length of time only an artillery engagement. After this time, the enemy's cannon having been almost silenced by the well-directed fire of our artillery, General Osterhaus ordered two companies to deploy as skirmishers towards the enemy, to which was presently added another company. The men had to pass over a pretty large field without any shelter before reaching the woods in which the enemy was concealed, which was done in double-quick time. Following up the enemy into the timber, there composed of large trees without any undergrowth, the enemy retreated rapidly behind a fence at the other end of the timber, from where they poured a destructive fire on us. The balance of the regiment in the mean time coming up, and the Twenty-fifth Illinois skirmishing on our right and the Thirty-sixth Illinois on our left, we went forward, routing the enemy completely before our front, and achieving, in connection with the other brave troops on our right and left, a complete and decided victory.
This ended the battle, as far as I am aware of--at least as far as this regiment is concerned. The officers and men engaged in battle this day numbered less than 400, but, I say it with pride, showed themselves worthy of the distinguished commander whose name the regiment bears. The casualties of this day were 3 killed and 12 wounded, the majority severely. My horse was killed by a shot in the neck.
Major, Commanding Twelfth Missouri Volunteers.
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